Parashah (portion) Lech Lecha -Heading Home
Genesis 12:1 – 17:27
This week, we continue exploring the midah (value) of “Sacred Space” as it is reflected in Torah and as it manifests in our world. This Torah portion calls us to appreciate the deeper significance of what it means to seek sacred space in our lives. The week’s reading begins with Abraham receiving his calling:
The Eternal One said to Abram, “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1)
Perhaps because Sacred Space has been our midah , I found myself more intrigued by what Abraham was leaving behind than by where he was going. This concept of “ birthplace” is symbolic of a place we know well, the place which nourishes us, supports us in our growing, and the place where we are loved and cared for. Our “father’s house” might be the archetypal expression of a place where we feel protected, a place from which we draw strength and courage, learn values and direction. In delving into it, I realized that t his was Sacred Space Abraham was leaving.
To me this pithy verse captures the essence of personal growth and spiritual evolution. The image is that we are spiritual travelers, evolving from one level in consciousness to the next, while preserving the essential attributes of the levels we are called to leave. Some spiritual teachers call it the evolutionary impulse at the heart of all creation. And so, like Abraham we need to let go of the Sacred Space where we have been, because our staying there, however comfortable, safe and predictable, would stifle our growth. Staying there would transform this Sacred Space into a place of enslavement where we would begin to feel stuck, unhappy, constricted. We need to move beyond the confines of such a place in consciousness and venture into the unknown.
But before we are able to embark on such trying journey, before we are able to let go of it, we need to create and root ourselves in this Sacred Space. We first need to find our ” birthplace ,” the place where, time and again, we can be reborn, nurtured back to life, where we are able to hold ourselves in love and compassion. We need to know that archetypal ” father’s house ” of safety, groundedness and purposefulness. There is no point trying to grow beyond the level we are currently at, until we have found balance and healing at that level.
This week, therefore, I would invite you to hold off on the call to ” go forth ,” and instead to first reflect upon where you find this nurturing Sacred Space in your life? Where is your ” birthplace ” of support and nourishment? Where is your ” father’s house ” of security and rootedness? Amidst the turmoil we witness all around us, overwhelmed by the fast pace of our world, this is the Sacred Space in our life that needs our attention right now. Before we can embark on the next stage of our evolution, we need to know where home is; we need to know to slow down, breathe and be deeply connected to what really matters herer and now.
© 2010 Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, All rights reserved.